A few weeks ago, I was invited to represent Hooniverse.com at the launch of a brand new 'performance all season' tire from BF Goodrich in Phoenix, AZ. In the interest of full disclosure, BFG payed for me to fly to Phoenix, put me up in a very nice room at a very nice hotel, and gave me as much food and drink as I could ever want (BFG is owned by FLATSIXES.com sponsor Michelin). They also had a full day of car and tire testing activities. It was a very fun trip, and I was honored to be there. So how does this relate to FLATSIXES.com? Well, we're going to investigate whether this tire could or should be your choice for your Porsche's next set. Shop for BFGoodrich tires at Tire Rack.
You should know up front that I take tires and tire technology quite seriously. When BF Goodrich told me that they had a new performance all season, I immediately questioned whether such a thing were actually possible. I've always been a seasonal tire buyer, believing whole-heartedly in the concept of summer and winter tires existing separately. I've always said that All-Season tires should really be called No-Season tires, because in my mind they've always been the 'Jack of all trades' tire, while mastering none. So how is this one any different?
BF Goodrich has rated this tire as an all season, but they don't pull any punches about it working through a heavy snow winter. This tire has had to compromise a bit of snow performance in order to increase it's dry and wet traction and lateral grip. That's not to say that this tire is garbage in the winter, but if you live in a northern climate that gets more than a few inches of snow per year, you should probably have a dedicated set of snow and ice tires anyhow (designated with a 'three peak mountain - snowflake' design on the sidewall'. M+S rated tires are not proper snow tires.). In fewer words, this is designed more as a three season tire than a four season tire. But, for those three seasons, it seems to be pretty darned good at it's job.
During the testing regimen, unfortunately, we were not given any nice new Porsches to drive around, and in fact, we were stuck in a bunch of different cars that were all automatics. The car choice was a bit underwhelming, but the tires proved to work pretty well, especially in comparison with the similarly priced performance all season competition. There were four different tests that we were given the opportunity to back-to-back test between the Comp 2 and the competitors; wet/dry straight line braking distance, wet handling course, dry handling course, and highway noise. In every test, the BFG outperformed the other tires.
In test #1, we were put in the driver's seat of some brand new Audi A5 coupes to test the straight line braking capabilities of the tires. From 50 miles per hour on this car, the tires gripped well in both wet and dry conditions. In comparison with the Hankook Ventus Noble s1, the g-force Comp 2 A/S felt much grippier, which was corroborated by the in-car mounted Vbox data acquisition boxes, showing consistently shorter stops in the BFG shod cars. Stopping shorter in dry or wet conditions means that the BF Goodrich car could actually save you a ton of money in bodywork repair by stopping earlier than the same car on the competition's tires. Between everyone at the test, the BFG stopped an average of 8.5 feet shorter in the wet and 13 feet shorter in the dry. That's the difference that could save you from burying your front bumper into the stationary car in front of you.
The second test I subjected the tires to was a wet miniature autocross course. The course consisted of a short slow slalom that led into a medium speed sweeper with a lane-change style chicane at the end. It's not a terrible way to test tires, as it allowed us to drive the same course back-to-back with the competition, but if I'm honest I would have liked a slightly longer course. This one was only about a 20 second sprint, where I like a nice long 60-second course or so. I realize that space and time constraints make that difficult, but it would have been closer to ideal. In this test, the Comp 2 was compared directly with Yokohama's AVID ENVigor and General Tire's G-Max A/S 03.
I've never really had the opportunity to experiment with wet-weather handling before, so this was probably the best part of the day for me. If I'm honest, I was quite surprised at the capabilities of all three tires, but the BFG was a head-and-shoulders winner in this test as well. When installed on a bunch of Mustang V6 models, the comparison between the three tires was made simpler. The new Mustang chassis is pretty darn good for a front-engine rear-driver, and offered a good platform for comparison. The General Tire was, by a decent margin, the least capable tire in the wet within this test's constraints. It just didn't have the abilities of the other two, and I experienced understeer under braking, and oversteer once I'd transitioned back to the throttle. In a reasonable second place was the Yokohama offering. It cleaned up a few of the bad characteristics of the General Tire, but was still a little bit slippy-slidey in both braking and abrupt throttle. It felt a bit like it didn't evacuate water as well as the BF Goodrich did, because it didn't provide the lateral grip of the Comp 2, especially in areas of standing water. The winner, as stated earlier, was the BFG, and it was an easy victory. This tire felt much more sure footed than the other two,and allowed harder cornering, later braking, and earlier throttle engagement. That ranking order was pretty much corroborated by everyone else that was in attendance that day.
A similar course was set up for dry testing, and frankly it was more of the same. The G-Max was dead last, the AVID second, and the BF Goodrich with a lengthy lead. The General Tire felt like a harder compound and more difficult to modulate under braking. Through the corners, the General Tire felt like it folded over and laid down. There was a lot of tread squirm and sidewall roll that gave me an unsavory feeling. The Yokohama, again, felt better, but not quite best. Braking, in this case, was greatly improved over the G-Max, but there was a long sleeping curve on this course that pushed the Yoke into an understeer situation, which was surprising on the oversteer heavy handling of the Scion FR-S we were driving to compare them. In the dry, the BFG felt much more consistent. Having run a handful of laps in the BFG shod car, all of them felt similar, while multiple runs on the other tire were somewhat unpredictable. Communication with the Comp 2 was also much better. I knew what that tire was going to do and when, because it provided proper feedback.
After the track work, we jumped in a couple of cars and headed for the highway. Ten miles on the highway in a Mustang driving the speed limit isn't exactly my idea of fun, but it does give an accurate depiction of how the tire works in real world conditions, and helps communicate to us a few of the things people who buy tires actually care about, including ride comfort and tire noise. I drove out the 10 miles to our rally point on the BF Goodrich, and then drove back in a different Mustang on the Yokohama tires. I'll be honest, if I hadn't driven these tires back-to-back, I probably would not have noticed a difference, but as it were, there was a slight difference and it was noticeable. The Yokohama was noisier by a handful of decibels, and there was definitely a louder crash noise that came through even to my seat when driving over expansion joints. If I'd driven the two cars on different days, or even more than 20 minutes apart from each other, I probably would have called the noise level the same or similar. There was a difference, albeit a slight one.
So, who is this tire for? Is this a good tire for your Porsche?
Well, yes and no. As most of you know, Porsche always recommends that the tire your select be N-Spec approved. This tire isn't. However, even with Porsche's recommendation, many still choose tires outside of N-Spec. If you're one of those people, this might be an option under certain conditions (like not wanting to change from summer to winter tires) as it allows a lot of great driving performance without compromising cold-weather abilities. It'd be great for a southern California driver who only needs to deal with snow once every three years. It'd be great for someone like me, living in the high desert of Nevada and seeing perhaps an inch of snow per year. It's a great tire for a Boxster or Cayman driver that wants some good performance (but not high speed or track performance), and doesn't want to compromise on tread wear. It'd be a great tire for any 928, 968, or 944, providing modern grip without compromising comfort. I might even recommend these tires to your average 964 or 993 owner who wants a good all-around tire for their fair-weather weekend driver. Lastly, it's a decent replacement for an older Panamera, as these are offered in sizes up to 20".
Initial product launch of the BFGoodrich g-Force Comp-2 A/S has begun. Pricing is not yet finalized, but expect each tire to cost about $160-$180 with a 45,000 mile treadwear warranty. The thing BFG is really excited about in regard to this tire is the fact that they are offering it in a wide range of 59 sizes from 16″ to 20″ to fit everything from tuner cars and Europeans to vintage muscle cars and SUVs. Shop for BFGoodrich tires at Tire Rack.
[Wet Audi Stop Test photo and Black Scion Handling photo provided by BF Goodrich. All others ©2015 Hooniverse/Bradley C. Brownell, All Rights Reserved.]